There Is Much Going On in Clubland Today

There is much going on in Clubland today. Many rumors, much innuendo, and startling new developments. I may decide to give it one more shot. Enter the fray, throw my hat into the ring, draw my rumored-to-be substantial sword—I may open up a joint. The old Studio 54 spot would seem ideal. This legendary venue might be the perfect platform to bring things back to the good old days. I would immediately kill bottle minimums and just rent the tables, say $250 bucks an hour. I’d use this $250 to tip out the doormen and bottle hosts who do all the heavy lifting, and maybe throw something to the promoters and managers as well. I’d keep half and split the other half amongst those mentioned and others that deserve it. Bottles will run $250 for most brands. Luxury stuff would have appropriate up-ticks. I wouldn’t charge a 20% mandatory tip. I’d leave that up to the customer. This system would of course screw the waitrons. They’d make $400 bucks a night, not $1000, unless they actually booked a table. Why some wannabe model, actress or ex-stripper makes more than a manager or doorman, is beyond me.

With the big club I’ll have lots of rooms where real DJs would play real music. Like in the old days, if it was on the friggin’ radio, my spinners better have a unique remix or be put out to pasture, er, work. I’d hire legends who deserve such status, ugly street kids with chops, and banish the Serato pretty boys to the dance floors and retail stores where they belong. The public might need time to adjust as they actually won’t know the name of every song or artist, and may not be aware of the next song in every playlist. For my staff, I guess I’ll turn to the experts and ask Scott Solish to be my number two, with Brittany Mendenhall and Rachelle Hruska helping out. After all, who knows more about running a joint than a bona fide blogger? I’d put Rich “give peace a chance” Thomas in as head of security, and put Justin “I just got tossed” Ross Lee at the door. We might have to ID check and IQ check anyone he comes with, or knows personally.

I might ask Tarale Wulff to head up my accounting department on accountin’ she might not be able to get a server job anymore in this town, and I’ve always liked her. I’d put those guys over at Scallywag and Vagabond in charge of public relations—they seem so good at making up stories when there is no story, and having those tales seem so sensational. I’d have regular staff meetings and ask Jon “The Lover” Lennon to sweetly explain to all what might not be working. I’ll ask Scott and Richie to name the place right after they come up with something for 14th Street. That’s all I can talk about right now, as I have really important people to meet and ultra cool places I need to be on this first day of April. I do recall what Mr. Mark Twain said about this calendar date “April 1. This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four.”

Weighing in on Tinsley and Guest of a Guest

OMG. Oscar Wilde once said “I am not young enough to know everything.” When you get down to it, I’m an internet dinosaur. Although I’m fairly aware of some things, I’m absolutely unaware of others. The gossip stuff always confuses me. I have no idea who anyone is. Take Tinsley Mortimer. Please. That’s an old Henny Youngman joke (but you youngins don’t know who that is). When I want to know who a Tinsley Mortimer is–or an Ed Westwick or a Devorah Rose– I call up my BFF (that’s an abbreviation, right?) Brittany Mendenhall to find out. She knows all that stuff and writes about it in her blog Chichi212. Sometimes Rachelle Hruska will invite me to have cocktails with dozens of people who I’ve never heard of, but must be very important because she writes about them in her blog, Guest of a Guest. I love Rachelle and have always supported her. Christopher Koulouris has his blog, which I guess deals with Scallywags (Brittany told me all about it). His Facebook profile describes him as Chief Editor and Cultural Correspondent for the eponymous “Scallywag & Vagabond.” He has a great mustache and sent me this Facebook message:

Steve, I don’t know if you have seen this story or the one below, but I’m very very curious to get your thoughts. After all, you champion this girl. Title: Rachelle Hruska – Media whore/manipulator for Hire. In the face of the recent scandal that we uncovered pertaining to the CW’s (the producers of High Society) arrangement with Rachelle Hruska’s Guest of a Guest

I responded as follows:

I’d like to talk to her before commenting, which I’ll do on my blog. I personally take great pains to separate the people I do business with and try to disclose any conflicts, I find this stunning and want to hear more.

I called Brittany and asked her what it all meant, and after a half hour of OMG’s and dropping names I’d heard of, I came to the conclusion that Christopher was saying that the whole Tinsley Mortimer reality show was phony and that Rachelle was somehow involved with helping to create this phoniness. I may live under a rock sometimes and I may be very old, but doesn’t everybody know that all reality TV shows are phony? I called Rachelle for a reaction and she told me it’s all a bunch of junk and asked me to join her for cocktails at a fabulous place I’d never heard of with a list of fabulous people who sounded familiar. I’m going to go–if not to get to the bottom of this, at least to get to the bottom of a bottle of Jameson.

Being the “Professional Journalist” I am, I decided to read all the articles that Christopher Koulouris was forwarding to me. I wanted to get to the truth. I came upon this segment:“Consider the case of media giants like the NY Post building up Rachelle Hruska, who basically arrived in New York 5 minutes ago (within the last 4 years) and is promoted by Nightlife Industry folks like Steve Lewis and backed by affluent internet social networking guru’s (Cameron Winklevoss).” It seems that I was getting part of the credit for creating the Rachelle Hruska “monster.” I’m flattered, but can’t take credit for her success. She’s worked very hard and has created a highly successful blog against all detractors and in a rough economy. The fact that the New York Post and so many others get along with her is easy to understand: She’s fun, smart, down to earth and always a good friend. The implication that Cameron Winklevoss and other connected players helped her get in and fed her stories is a “So what?” I have my sources, as does anyone getting stories. We all lean on others for deep information from undisclosed sources. If I had a dollar for every New York Times or New York Post or New York Press or unknown reporter who wanted to get the “skinny” about some nightlife figure or nightlife situation, I could buy me a Toyota.

I admit that I’m old and out of it and may not see this giant elephant in the room, but I just don’t understand. So I read more Skallywag stuff. In the third thing, I read a name that rings my bell. The primary source of all of this hullabaloo is this kid who is no longer working as a Guest of a Guest photographer Dylan Armajani. Him, I know. It was a little after this past New Year’s Eve when I shacked up with a blue-blooded blonde. We got along nicely, she needed a place to stay and I needed the comfort of an enthusiastic friend. As Sinatra once said, “It was just one of those crazy things.” Although our mad love affair fizzled as the last Christmas trees were carted away, we’ve remained good friends. I won’t mention her name here, though I’m sure she wouldn’t care. A couple of days into the affair, she complained to me about a guy who was bothering her. She had endless Facebook and text messages from this fellow, some of which were incredibly graphic and disturbing. Being the old school gentleman I am, I asked if I might intervene. I was sure I could reason with him, so I called the fellow. We had a pleasant chat where I informed him that I was indeed dating the young lady and his advances, innuendos and pleas for physical contact should properly end. He apologized and agreed and all was well. Or so I thought. I was then subjected to a bombardment of threats and insane ramblings from the young gent that were so childish and full of insane lies, that I became concerned for my young lady friend.

I sent him a message that clearly informed him that I was her boyfriend and he must stop bothering both of us. Here is the Facebook correspondence between myself and the Scallywag star witness, Dylan Armajani:

DA: Lovely. No hard feelings. Had no clue you were with her. I respect that and we have tons of mutual friends, so I respect that as well. Had I known I was intruding on you I wouldn’t have. Sorry. Have a good night, and I’m sure I’ll bump into you someday, with all the friends we have in common! But don’t throw the threats. Threats don’t get anywhere. No need for them. We are respectful people.

SL:You have been told. Take that any way you want, but do not contact her again.

DA: No worries. My lawyer has this message, should you try anything. But have a good night

SL: You’re so adorable

DA: Hey, I don’t know you! No plans to piss you off, but would rather cover my bases 🙂

The harassing of my friend didn’t stop and I called Rachelle to tell her that there was a genuine nut working for her. She asked that my gal send her an email. At this time my gal went to the police to get an order of protection. I do miss the old days, but this seemed like an intelligent path. Yes, I’m a genuine gentleman, but in revealing all this, I must also be a Scallywag. Here is the letter my gal sent to Rachelle:

I hope the New Year finds you well. I also hope that I am neither interfering nor awkwardly blunt by addressing the rather consistent, terribly crude contact I have incurred on the part of one of your alleged staff (?) members, Dylan Armajani. Though it is certainly not my intent to be invasive, nor inflammatory, Dylan’s one-sided, increasingly crass (I simply cant bring myself to recite the slew of texts and emails I get verbatim – and I wouldn’t want to subject you to them!!) attempts at interaction have both frightened and shocked me.

I had contact with him per a potential website design job for a client of mine months ago, and since then I can expect endless texts and other daily forms of communication which have alarmed many of my peers so much that they have feared for my welfare. Please bear in mind I wish no ill will towards him; I don’t know him. That said, the fact that I don’t know him and he is writing things that have only warranted responses requesting he never, ever contact me again, is room for concern. I’m not sure why he does this, and I have tried to evade it for quite a while.

Recently, Steve Lewis was present when I received a very random, very forward text, followed by an online “proposal,” if you will. Steven found this disconcerting, and quite politely asked him to stop. He did not. Again, Steven asked him to stop, and was bothered by the realization that this character worked for your company, as Steven is quite fond of you. As he was explaining how shocked he was at Dylan’s erratic behavior, Steve became the “victim.” He began to receive a multitude of emails that didn’t seem to end. They ran the gamut from threats of law suits, apologies, ignorance of the situation, anger. I am not sure anyone could keep track of the erratic emotions. While I’m not sure what Dylan has in his head (this is not someone I know beyond a brief interaction ages ago,) I do know that Steve was merely trying to help, and was subjected to the sort of manic, inappropriate slander that I get and have gotten on a regular basis for quite some time. This, of course, makes me feel terrible, as Steve was nothing short of polite, though presumably shocked, that he was being berated in such a way.

Per further threats I have received from Dylan that now include Steve, I have filed a no-contact order, as I now have not only put myself in a position where I’m not sure what this stranger is up to, but I have subjected Steve to it as well. Steve, while probably shocked that Dylan has been bringing up lawyers and such (ironic indeed: most know that both spoken and written harassment, which seems an understatement, is viable evidence and certainly grounds for trouble….) strikes me as most concerned that he works for you, as, again, he speaks very highly of you and Guest of a Guest.

Perhaps (and I don’t know) Dylan is young and volatile or drinks too much or the like. However, while I have hindered in addressing a very uncomfortable situation, Steve’s witnessing of just a bit of foul language, followed by his own character attack, and finally followed by his concern that perhaps such strange and irrational behavior may be detramental to someone he cares for and her company, has clearly left him very concerned.

I apologize if I appear meddlesome, as this is not something you should have to hear about – although Steve is now being threatened and is concerned for the situation in its entirety.

Again, I hope you have a wonderful New Year, and this information yields as little trouble for anyone as possible. I feel awful for Steve becoming involved, and thus you.

Please feel free to contact me if need be. Pardon this strange, hopefully fleeting situation.

I have often been attacked by informed and uninformed agents of the truth. Broke ass assholes can always dig deep into their pockets for two cents worth of vile ranting. Rachelle has expanded into LA and is living in a world far above the mud that others and I are wrestling in. I respect the work of Christopher Koulouris and any watchdog that will keep media on the straight and narrow, but until a person of character is actually brought forth to disparage the good name of my good friend Rahelle Hruska, I am not a believer. Christopher join us for cocktails tonight and we will get to the truth, or at least to the bottom of that bottle of Jameson.

UPDATE: See Dylan Armajani’s rebuttal.

The Top 10 Industry Insiders of 2009

We did it last year, when this interview series was borned, and back then our pal Rachel Uchitel was #2 to a doorman. No more! Half a million pageviews later, Rachel, you’re second to none, but we’re retiring your number. It’s time to make way for the class of 2009.

10. David Chang The master of Momofuku can do no wrong. 9. Rochelle Gores Shopkeep of LA’s fashion-forward Arcade, Gores wants to close the book on boho-chic. 8. Mourad Lahlou Lahlou knocks ’em dead from San Francisco’s Aziza to Iron Chef. 7. Eddie Dean After a series of legal woes, Dean’s Pacha club in New York owns the night once more. 6. Wass Stevens Arguably New York’s most well-known and professional doorman, Stevens has transitioned upward into running the show, not just the guest list. 5. Rachelle Hruska The queen of Guest of a Guest sure knows how to get her name out there. Now quit accosting us at parties! 4. Richie Akiva, Jeffrey Jah, Ronnie Madra, & Scott Sartiano The boys of 1Oak are the supergroup of NYC clubland. 3. Paul Liebrandt The prickly chef from New York’s Corton has no time for your foolish questions. 2. Poplife Miami’s nightlife mandarins continue to throw one of the hottest parties in town. 1. Josh Wagner Our most popular interview subject for the year also hails from Miami, running the bar-side show for Morgans Hotels; he declared 2009 the “year of the bartender,” and he was demonstrably correct.

James Gandolfini to Guest of a Guest: “Get the F**k Away from Me”

James Gandolfini was out trick-or-treating with his kids at boutique shops when a Guest of a Guest photographer — who has since remained anonymous — was videoing him doing so. Gandolfini rushed over and gave the photographer a piece of his mind! God, you guys, blogging is so dangerous, amirite? Video after the jump.

We know the feeling, James. Kidding! Speaking of which, Rachelle Hruska, Guest of a Guest editirix and Steve Lewis’ adopted daughter, actually wrote in on the incident, penning the blog post that accompanies the video:

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again … I wouldn’t wish celebrity fame on my worst enemy. It has to be hard being followed all of the time, and is only a matter of time before you would snap. Unfortunately, for a Guest of a Guest photographer, the moment Sopranos star James Gandolfini snapped happened to be on his watch. On Halloween in the West Village, Gandolfini assaulted the guy.

Well then! We wouldn’t want to wish James Gandolfini bitchslapping a Guest of a Guest photographer on any Guest of a Guest photographers, or any unkindness on any being, man, person, animal, fish, whatever. But sometimes it happens and we have nothing to do with it and it makes for great video. Watch it again! And again! And again!

Industry Insiders: Rachelle Hruska, Guest Star

After only a few years spent navigating the social waters if Manhattan, Rachelle Hruska left her cushy job at a mutual fund company to work on her hobby: social media. Her website, Guest of a Guest, not only deciphers New York’s social hierarchies, but, as Hruska puts it, provides “a guide for what is going on among the young and influential tastemakers shaping the collective culture.” Hruska’s pluck and insight keep her focused. “After identifying an open niche in social media that I thought I could fill, it was necessary for me to venture into the unknown”– a leap that propelled Hruska into hosting her own events, sussing out the newest hotspots and basically showing face on a nightly basis. “I see us taking Guest of a Guest to other cities around the world,” she says. “I have met a lifetime’s worth of interesting people in the past two years.”

You went through quite a transitional period when you moved to New York, you weren’t involved in the media industry- what were you doing, and how did you come to decide to run full time? I was working at a mutual fund, happy and content with my job. I was able to study and learn how companies worked and became interested in starting my own. Naturally, living in the city, it’s nearly impossible not to be exposed to New York media, and as I began to read and follow different blogs and media outlets, I marveled at the seemingly low barrier of entry to that world. For fun and as an experiment, I began to chronicle young Manhattan on a daily basis at nights, after work. After seeing consistent growth, I started to became more and more convinced that there was a market for this kind of website. In May of 2008, I left the security of a wonderful job to take on the risks and challenges of trying to make this a successful company.

How was Guest of a Guest conceived? Was it a passion, a hobby? At the beginning it was totally just a hobby that got my mind off finance. And we got to a place where we saw a niche; these young, twentysomething group of tastemakers, who liked going out and wanted to know everything about it, and we went with it. But it took us a while to get there. When we started, we had writers cover lots of things, from food to fashion, and everything else. It was like a Gothamist more than a Guest of a Guest. After becoming more and more interested in the online media world, and kind of seeing all these print publications crashing — we had to figure out how we were going to survive and expand. We had to figure out how to manage SEO, and basically everything that made a blog work. I started meeting with people like Lockhart Steele. We started talking to people like Nick Denton, and kind of just getting an idea of how they started.

And they just offered up their help? Well, Lockhart found me. At the time I kept my identity a secret. The New York Times picked up a story because we had talked about 1Oak opening and now one even knew 1Oak was in existence. I had just heard through the grapevine and put up a small little post. So, the Sunday Times did a piece referencing us, and once you have a mention in the Times like that, I think that was probably when we made it on the radar. Lockhart started talking to me through email, as I was very nervous about giving away who I was. Since I was working in finance, I didn’t know how my peers would feel about it. So I put some trust in a couple people that I felt could be helpful. Lockhart was one of them from the very beginning. I started this two summers ago. I didn’t quit my job until last April.

You’ve just passed your four year mark as a New Yorker; do you find you’ve lost some of that wide-eyed wonder that you initially had? I’ve tried to not let that happen. I think that being naive, in some aspects, is a blessing. You don’t know what’s not possible, you’re kind of just starry-eyed. I think I’m much smarter and much more aware of agendas, but I also think that it’s important to work at it. Just yesterday I went running with my friend Danielle, who is the Danni behind Dannijo Jewellery, over the Brooklyn Bridge, and we’re both like little kids on this bridge, taking pictures of ourselves with the Manhattan skyline in the background. It was silly how exciting it still is, and maybe those are the kind of things that don’t happen every day, but you gotta work for it. You have to try to not become jaded. New York does that to you, right? And it’s going to do that to you, especially when you’re going to all these events. Obviously, an event is not the same as the first time I went. But you have to learn to appreciate the little things in life. And especially when you’re removed from the city, it’s such a blessing to come back and experience those things all over again.

You cover a lot of charity events, and you’ve launched a charity initiative. Do you have a specific cause you are passionate about, or do you try to give them all a fair chance? VABC: Voices Against Brian Cancer. I lost my grandmother to brain cancer and my friend’s brother is running in the marathon for brain cancer support. Anything close to cancer is close to home. I also do a lot with The American Heart Association because I’ve had a lot of family that have had heart issues. I don’t have much free time or tons of money to give away but I do hope to bring exposure to great causes through GofG

When people get snarky on the internets, call you out on things, or try to pick fight, how do you deal with that? Do you think it’s important to fight back? Yeah, I do. Those dialogues, even though they are tedious and worthless right now, I think they’re fun. It’s always good to have people challenge you, always. It makes you work harder, try to do better, and be more fair. I welcome all of it. I have had people that have put me in a bad light, but if you know you are doing everything you can and are in the right then the open dialogue can only help the situation for other people. I don’t pick fights with people. I never do. It’s not interesting to me, and it’s not something I enjoy doing. But if there is something that I think, then I am going to spend some time trying to retaliate — I’ll do it on my personal Tumblr. It’s important to have respect for your peers. I don’t want to just be a fighter that people look at but don’t take seriously. Page Six and Gawker already do it … it’s fun to read … people like reading it. But there is also room for a nicer and more positive spin. That’s what we are going for.

Do you have a hit list? Maybe not in a personal way, but with the knowledge that your readers have a lot of interest certain names? Well, you have to be aware of everyone. Obviously there are people that you see over and over again at parties, and people might share rumors, and suddenly you have an understanding of who people are talking about. I think that you can also create people that I personally think are interesting — you can do that on your own. I don’t know about the hit list, but there are definitely characters that people are always on the lookout for. And you know, if we’re writing a post on an event and, let’s say, someone’s there and something happened with them the week before, we might add that name to the event.

Have you felt like you’ve been able to be supportive to people who are now big hitters in the industry? That’s the goal. And I think that was for me too, that was really the goal, to give interesting people who were trying to do something good or trying to build and create something in a time when, I mean, let’s face it, we are in a major recession, and people don’t need to be worked down, they need to be built up. I think you can do it without sounding too Pollyanna. I said this to the Times reporter because, one of the things he said was, “you shill for Surf Lodge.” Well, I actually really like going there! It’s not like we’re going to write about things that we just think are cool because we want them to be happy with us or on our good side. We generally only write about things that we like and that we want our readers to be aware of. There are designers and people in nightlife who are trying to bring something in an industry that is bringing our city so much revenue. Of course, I want to try and support that. I really feel it’s helping our city by doing that because it’s making people aware and raising interest for these businesses. Charities, especially in a time like this, are huge. These events are always giving back and built around philanthropic causes. They get young kids excited about giving back. Even if they can’t afford a ticket, maybe they can help out by being on the committee. Our interns, for example — whenever they go to an event, they really take it as their own. When I am invited to a charity, I try to see who from our team is best suited to cover it and really get personally involved and help give it space online that really has eyeballs coming to it. We can try to sell tickets, give free tickets to newsletter readers, and just generally raise awareness to it.

Where do you like to go out in New York? Do you have a favorite restaurant? My favorite restaurant is Blue Ribbon. I got introduced to it a year ago, and I have been going back a lot. I tend to stay by my neighborhood. I love Raul’s. I am starting to get into the Diablo Royale. Barrio Chino — I love Mexican food.

Any favorite bar? I like Rose Bar. I am not into clubs, but Rose Bar is my go-to. I like the Cooper Square Hotel. I like the rooftop of the Thompson Hotel, the Jane Hotel, and recently I’ve been going to The Standard Grill.

Favorite shops? I hate shopping. I hate it. I haven’t been shopping since last October. I don’t even know what to say about shops; I don’t know anything about them. If I need something I’ll go to Topshop or Bloomingdale’s in Soho. Being a blogger now, I don’t need to dress up during the day. I am running out of clothes. I should start online shopping.

Who do you admire in your industry? Do you have any mentors or anyone you’ve tried to emulate? It depends if you’re looking at media people, writers, or tech people. The thing about my industry is that there are not many females in the tech world so it’s really interesting to get to meet them. It’s cool. I met Caterina Fake, who did Flickr and is now doing She really impresses me. And other women, like Arianna Huffington, who really changed the way we get our news. But Caterina’s story really impressed me. And I admire a lot of my peers who are working really hard to try to do their own companies. I look up to them. I always admire people who go to the beat of their own drum.

Do you love your job? I love it. I absolutely love it. There are definitely days where I have a lot of trials, and some days you’re pulled in so many directions. But it’s just like anyone who has a company. You’re wearing so many hats that they all come crashing down at the same time. You have to put things in perspective and realize it’s not the end of the world. I’ve never worked harder for anything, but sometimes it doesn’t even feel like I’m working all the time. Even though I am working day and night, I am passionate about it. It doesn’t feel like work. I get to meet such great people in the industry, really interesting people. And that wasn’t available to me in finance. I really enjoy it.

Opening The Gates & Advanced Jameson Theory

imageA handful of posts ago, I reacted with what The Gates’ owners Redd Styles, Danny Kane, and Michael James thought was an iron fist regarding their soon-to-open club. My less than enthusiastic preview supplied a list of what I thought were glaring problems facing the place. These three guys are friends of mine, and my criticism was seen as a betrayal of sorts, but mutual associates pointed out that the analogy of telling a friend they have toilet paper on their shoe is meant to be helpful. I, as a nightlife writer with an editor and a public that need to see me as an honest broker and as friend, felt the need to point out what ailed them. It wasn’t as if I was the only person who noticed this stuff. Most just air-kissed them on the cheeks and said things like “congratulations,” while whispering behind their backs. And the types that revel in others’ failures spoke out loud. And though I’m not that kind of person, I probably spoke the loudest.

I wasn’t going to attend last night’s grand opening because I had other obligations, but I got a text message on my brand new Crackberry that said, “Please come to The Gates, they got the toilet paper off their shoe.” So I grabbed Dave Delzio and headed up. I had five major criticism last time I visited: sound, lights, DJ, cheap upholstery, and location. The first thing I noticed was the major adjustment to the lighting package. Now, the ancient marble and wood paneling were clearly visible. The sound was also much improved. I had spoken with Dan Agne, one of the best sound dudes in town, about the problems of this room. With hard surfaces everywhere, there is a “lot of bounce,” which creates these little echoes — and what you end up hearing is a muddle of sounds. They did a decent job of making it better; the music sounded better as well. Well, the cheap seats were probably still there, but I couldn’t see them because the place was jammed. As far as location there’s not much that can change that. It just means they have to be on point. A long time ago, I had a club, and my main rival was formidable but in a remote location. I attacked this club — yes, I used to attack my rivals — by concentrating really strong promotional events at their best night. I gave away free booze and wrangled celebrities. I did what was called “giving the house away,” in a Cold War-type atomic attack. Maybe I couldn’t survive long doing this, but I was going to take them down and then rise from the ashes to be the last man standing. It worked. By taking away their thunder even for a few nights, I made people think twice before they spent beaucoup bucks on cab fares to this far-away place. If you are in a remote location, you just have to be solid every night, or people will be reluctant to travel. The three amigos over at The Gates will have to be dedicated to providing a consistently good time if they hope to overcome their 26th and 8th location. The crowd was energetic and pretty — I didn’t see one person with toilet paper on their shoes.

Earlier I had attended my old and absolutely older friend Christine Cho’s birthday party. We ate at Charles, a very beautiful West Village restaurant. It’s located where 7th Avenue meets 10th Street and West 4th Street. I couldn’t find it. My assistant pointed out that my problem with locations may be just another sign of my senility. I do have a cure for that though — the summer intern season is near. I stumbled into Charles 15 minutes late. “I swear, Christine, I would have been on time if it was easier to find.” Her table was the gayest in the neighborhood (no small task) and something I loudly pointed out. “It just got gayer,” was offered from someone in the peanut gallery. Rachelle Hruska, my Guest of a Guest guru, squealed, “Look, they have Tanteo tequila,” and I told her I still hadn’t recovered from her BBQ.

Besides, for the last week I have been worshiping at the altar of that demigod Jameson. My newfound fondness of the sticky liquids is not a binge; it’s more of a research project, a sort of scientific journey to make sure my mental files on the effects of drinking are up to date. Rachelle is getting so much traffic on her GOAG blog that I had to look both ways and adjust my rear-view mirror just to chat with her. Dinner was great, but the $2,400 for 10 people wasn’t necessarily recessionary. Nobody was sober enough to check the check, and we regathered outside and took a leisurely stroll down to Greenhouse.

DJ Michael Cavadis, a.k.a. Lily of the Valley, and James Copalla entertained a packed house of revelers. The old-school mix of gays and straights of different generations that so many feel is impossible to find in this era was banging around the basement of the eco-friendly haunt. A promoter type waddled over to me and gave me the obligatory “love your blog” fist-pound hello. He loved the toilet paper shoe thingy and asked me if “those guys at The Gates knew how much of a favor you did them?” I told him I wasn’t sure, but that I had gone tonight, and we were all very friendly, and I liked it. He told me that my story about the Griffin was “spot on” and that two of the owners there, Chris Reda and Adam Hock, were “not getting along.”

A side effect of my Jameson scientific study seems to be a calm, detached, and rather kind view of life, and so I answered, “I hope they work things out.” I was told that Reda was upset at something I said about him the other day, and I told the promoter that “Chris has my phone number.” I’ll go on record that I like Chris and would not hesitate to do business with him again. Sometimes when a few people get together, they form this third personality that doesn’t act like any of the individuals. Maybe that’s the case here. Maybe Chris didn’t mean to say awful things about someone in my life, but in association with the people he chose to associate with — Adam Hock and Stevie D — it was that other personality speaking.

Anyway, it’s all business, and my business is telling it like i see it, or hear it. My firm, Lewis and Dizon (I’m the Lewis guy, and Marc Dizon is the Dizon guy) designed the Griffin. We therefore have an interest in it being a success. From all accounts, it isn’t. It may be that the combination of ownership personalities over there has formed this other personality that has no idea how to run a club. See, all this Jameson science stuff is helping formulate these cool hypotheses! Those guys have way more than toilet paper on their shoes, and no amount of great lighting, sound, DJs, or comfy couches is likely to hide the smell. Griffin is a beautiful product of hundreds of hours of work by my partner Marc Dizon. Marc is quiet, and in this way we are different. So when people say things about him, he is likely to bear it in silence, confident that he has done a great job. His partner, the dude who used to be Steve Lewis, is a bit more vocal. Griffin stinks, and it isn’t the shit stuck to their shoes that’s the problem. It’s the shit coming from their mouths. Was I too subtle, or do you peeps get what I’m saying? Ill be here all week.

Monday Morning Hangover Ramblings

I attended the Hamptons 2009 launch party thrown by Guest of a Guest and pal o’ mine Rachelle Hruska this Sunday. It was held on her cool (and on that afternoon chilly) rooftop overlooking the Bowery. The promise of BBQ and an audience that I could pitch my Nightlife Preservation Community rap to and the wrath of Rachelle if I didn’t show up, motivated me out of my nearby home. Guest of a Guest is the premiere blog doing this nightlife thing. My blog generally deals with an insiders’ perspective of the life. It’s a niche that I carved out a little over a year ago with the enthusiastic support of Rachelle. GOAG deals with a nightlife that is not defined by clubs and their limitations. Her cultural reporting brings us the skinny and scoop on art openings, benefits, launches and such. Clubs are only a small part of her gig and in my opinion she has, in the last few months, risen above the pack and is the must-read blog on our diverse nightlife culture. I need another word it seems because nightlife is morphing into something else.

Matt Assante, a nocturnal promoter type, is pitching me about his weekend brunch rooftop soirees at the Gansevoort. I’m getting invites for those pier parties, the breakthrough brunches at Merkato 55 and now a host of other places indicating that the club culture is no longer limited to night or indeed clubs. This creative push, a pleasant byproduct of these recessionary times, is redefining how we party and mingle.

I attended that Friday night Izzy Gold affair down on Morton Street, my Blackberry was blowing up telling me that “everybody was there.” It was apparently a gala for Neil Young’s son [actually Chris Young, no relation to Neil. — ed.] or a launch of the new studio thing and I wandered around saying hey to people I hadn’t seen in ages — or should I say, hadn’t seen since they aged? In reality very few that I care about were in attendance, with the exception of course of Patrick and Liam McMullan. Liam indeed has aged well. These alternative loft space type parties are becoming increasingly important to a scene looking for new ideas. We are desperate to find a place that feeds our club habit but isn’t really a club. I did meet up with my dear friend Stephanie Podasca and her super hot crew of next generation clubbers at the Izzy Gold affair. They were bailing and on their way to James Coppola’s Friday at Le Royale, which is one of the best joints in town. Le Royale is a hit because it brings back the old-school fundamentals of clubbing, good music, sound, decor and a diverse crowd as well as a competent and cool staff. In the end, clubs do have the lights, sound, comfy seating and DJs that will attract us — except of course, the newly opened The Gates, which had none of those things right last time I went. My dear friend Michael James was quite upset over my remarks on his new joint and a little birdy said his partners Redd Styles and Danny Kane got in his face, because I am after all his friend and he needs to control what I say. Well, that won’t happen. Here’s a better solution: fix the sound, lights, seating and hire a DJ people can listen to and I’ll rave about the joint. I want The Gates to succeed, but if a friend of mine is walking around with toilet paper on their shoe I tell them. Last time I was there you guys had toilet paper on your shoes.

Rachelle’s rooftop extravaganza had no toilet paper on the shoe. I meant to stay a minute but was there for hours. They were serving this Tanteo Tequilla stuff that was stooopid hot — hot because it was cool tasting and because it had a jalapeño infusion. The idea is that the hot pepper hides the kick from the tequila. They have a mango-y and chocolatey one as well and needless to say I had approximately one more than I should have. I chatted up my dear friend Jen Gatien and we talked of doing stuff. I listened to a great set from DJ Suhel who also had his 1947 beer on hand for the ultra fun crowd. I congratulated blog goddess Brittany Mendenhall as she is weeks away from law school and a future that seemed impossible for her just a short time ago. Photog Chance Yeh who told me he takes about 4,000 photographs a week to make his living and I talked about Avenue, where he had almost attended a small private event there on Saturday night but was steered clear by the door who told him it wasn’t for him quite yet. I had tequila-brushed corn with a publicist from a major Hamptons nightspot who told me they were worried about Fridays. I get the feeling that Fridays out east may be the sacrificial lamb for a party crowd trying to save a few bucks.

I think Saturdays will be the usual mayhem but Fridays, always a tough nut anyway, will suffer. I spent my time chatting up people about the Nightlife Preservation Community Gala on June 22nd and gathering support from the club types to help us fight anti-legislation through mobilization of our vast resources. The millions of names on our email blast lists will now be a potent political tool. I was tired. I had stayed up late on Saturday night having stumbled into Collective Hardware to see what the artistic hipsters had up their sleeves. There was this photo booth thingy going on upstairs but what I saw downstairs in the gallery space made my draw drop. No, it wasn’t the lovely Kathleen Dragoon or even Aerosyn-Lex the graffiti artist/artist/artist that I am so pleased to be using for Ajaxx, the Times Square roof we are developing for June. I was blown away by the act Joey Rubin had put on the stage.

KeysNKrates played a set of familiar club anthems live; they’ll take a hip hop track, remix it and play it with instruments and such. It’s the sickest DJ set ever, although I don’t think it’s a DJ set. The energy in the room was beyond description even though the crowd was less than a hundred. Collective Hardware continues to show me the new and the now and it always makes my head tilt. It’s not a club but an anti-club. This art gallery, studio collection of thinkers and triers and failures and successes and non-club club types are pushing limits, taking no prisoners and continually collecting bright and bold movers and shakers. In its’ undefinability it speaks of the possibilities of a new culture. The world I speak about here could have been described as “nightlife” a year ago. I need a new word now.

Guest of a Guest’s Rachelle Celebrates Her Birthday

imageMy dear friend Rachelle Hruska of Guest of a Guest — who I’ve always called “Omaha” — turns 26 tomorrow. Since the first day I met her, which I think was the first or second day she hit town, Rachelle has been a trusted friend. She gives me advice and comforts me when I need those things, and she always laughs at my bad jokes. I dubbed her “Omaha” not just because that’s where she hails from, but also because she entered my world of friends with a certain naiveté, enthusiasm, and eyes wide open. My friends can be heartless teases, and I was determined that “Omaha” could always lean on me for a truth and the consequences that it brings.

Now our first meeting seems like a very long time ago. Rachelle is no longer “Omaha” — not even to me anymore. She and “her baby,” Guest of a Guest, have outgrown the hick references. If this is a bit of a puff piece it’s because she’s earned it, and of course I adore her. GOAG has doubled its business in the last six months. Last week, with everything looking down, she had her best week ever. She told me she feels that “there’s a need for the blog, people need their news faster than traditional media, and that it’s more than a gossip site, my readers need to know what’s going on in New York.” She feels that the blog’s success lies in it “not being overly critical but still willing to call a spade a spade,” and that “this city is attracting more and more creative people and in these times people are more about having a good forum to express that burgeoning creativity.”

She also attributes her success to her amazing staff of writers, photographers, and artists, many of whom just help her out from time to time. She feels that people need and want her site to be “positive, creative, and inspiring” and she feels it’s “important to show people in great despair that there are great things being done in this town, and that you can do it if you give it a try.” It hasn’t been easy on her. She was criticized early on by other sites, accused of being naive, new to journalism, and new to this town. Although some of the shots were cheap, she admits that some were well deserved. “It inspired me — even the cheap shots — I was determined to prove them wrong.” She has been true to her sources, never burned them, and encourages more people to contribute and get involved with her site. “It’s really hard to be this consistent source every single day, but if we can help a little and encourage people to be creative and show people what young creative people are doing and hold people accountable, then we’re making a difference. People are depending on us for this information — if a kid reads it and is inspired to pursue a passion, then it’s all worth it. All these things that we love or hope for, if people stop creating, then in five years we won’t have a country. The site needs to be a positive creative force.”

I read Guest of a Guest daily, and at the end of the year when I did my “Best of New York” round up, I declared it to be the best nightlife blog in town. I had just gotten a similar award from the Village Voice, and Scott over at Down By The Hipster received the Paper Magazine trophy and my declaration may have seemed merely gentlemanly to some. But those close to me know that that’s not the way I play. I meant it. From a guy who day in and day out tries to deliver my little niche of nightlife news, I am awed by the amount of content and quality of writing that Rachelle produces. Sure, once in awhile she misses a little, but considering the amount of content and the nature of her subject matter — a society of publicists, promoters, owners, celebrities, and artists that all too often embellish, lie, and exaggerate — she has an amazing track record. As Scarface didn’t say, “even when they tell the truth, they lie.” “At the end of the day I’m sitting at my computer aggregating content,” she said. Thank you, Rachelle, for bringing it to us. It’s a hard job and nobody does it better than you.

Happy birthday, Rachelle. You’re a real good reason to be cheerful.